|Born||August 26, 1954
Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines
Efren Timbol Reyes (born August 26, 1954) is a Filipino professional pool player from Angeles City and a two-time world champion. Reyes is considered to be one of the all-time greats in the games of nine ball and one-pocket. He is nicknamed "Bata" and "the Magician".
Reyes was born in Pampanga in 1954 and moved to Manila with his family, at the age of 5. In Manila, he worked as a billiards attendant at his uncle's billiards hall, where he started learning the various cue sports. Because he was not tall enough to reach the pool table, he played while standing on Coca-cola cases that he moved around. At night, while he was dreaming of playing pool, the pool table was his bed.
He is called Bata, which is Filipino for "Kid", because there was another older pool player named Efren when he was young. To determine which Efren onlookers were referring to, he was nicknamed "Efren Bata".
Gambling from a young age, Reyes played three cushion billiards in the 1960s and 1970s. After establishing himself as a winner, he was discovered by promoters. This gave him the opportunity to compete in big time tournaments.
Reyes began winning a number of tournaments in the US, Europe and in parts of Asia. Thus, he started to gain attention and recognition worldwide. At the start of his career he used aliases to hide his true identity so he would be allowed to compete. By the mid-1990s, he became one of the elite players of the Philippines alongside Jose Parica and Francisco Bustamante.
Numerous fellow professional players have credited Reyes with being the greatest living player in the world. During ESPN television commentary on a semi-finals match the between Reyes and Mika Immonen at the 2000 Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championship, veteran professional Billy Incardona stated that Reyes was "indisputably the best player in the world—especially when you consider all games—he can play any game as well as anyone, maybe better than anyone.... In my opinion we're watching probably the greatest player in my lifetime and I've been watching pool for the better part of forty years."
He is married to Susan Reyes with 2 children.
The fame of Efren Reyes began when he won the US Open Nine Ball Championship in 1994 by defeating Nick Varner in the finals. He was the first non-American ever to win the event.
Two years later, Efren Reyes and Earl Strickland were chosen to face each other in an event called the Color of Money, named after the movie. The event was a 3-day race-to-120 challenge match of 9-ball. It was held in Hong Kong and has a winner-take-all prize of US$100,000. Reyes won the match 120-117 and the big prize. This was the largest single-winning purse in a pool event.
Although Earl Strickland was the first to win the WPA World 9-ball Championship, Reyes, in 1999, became the first to win it broadcast on television. This tournament was not recognized at the time by the WPA, but Reyes was later retrospectively acknowledged as the winner of one of two world championships held in 1999. Nick Varner won the "official" world title, but this was a much smaller event than the one Reyes won. The two tournaments were merged for the following year, with both men listed as the champion for 1999. At the time, the Matchroom Sport-organised event in Cardiff, Wales, was called the World Professional Pool Championship (despite the entry of many non-professional players).
In 2001, Reyes won the International Billiard Tournament. The event was held in Tokyo and had over 700 players with a total purse of ¥100M ($850K). Reyes dominated the event by beating Niels Feijen in the finals 15-7 and earned the ¥20M ($170K) first prize. At the time, this was the biggest first prize in a pool tournament.
Near the end of 2004, Reyes beat Marlon Manalo to become the first-ever WPA World Eight Ball Champion. With the win, he became the first player in WPA history to win two world championships of different disciplines.
In December 2005, Reyes won the IPT King of the Hill 8-Ball Shootout. Reyes won a record-breaking $200K for first place by beating fellow Hall of Fame member Mike "the Mouth" Sigel two sets to none (8-0 and 8-5).
In 2006, Reyes and Francisco Bustamante represented their country as Team Philippines in the inaugural World Cup of Pool. They defeated Team USA, formed by Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris, to capture the title
That same year, Reyes won the IPT World Open Eight-ball Championship over Rodney Morris 8-6. He earned $500K which was the largest prize money tournament in the history of pocket billiards. Unfortunately, due to IPT's financial problems, he hasn't claimed much of this money as of 2007.
For 2007, he was ranked #2 in Pool & Billiard Magazine's "Fans' Top 20 Favorite Players" poll.
In 2008, Warren Kiamco, 38, defeated Efren Reyes, 11-6, in the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Billiards Tournament on May 10, 2008 at the Sports Center of StarMall Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
In 2009, The Filipino tandem of Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante beat the German tandem of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann in a grueling 11-9 win to take their second championship title. This, along with the semifinal finish of the other Filipino tandem of Ronato Alcano and Dennis Orcollo, was the best performance put up by a host nation in the tournament's history.
As a player in professional pool, Reyes has been known to have won a number of money-rich tournaments worldwide. This makes him one of the most profitable players around. To prove it, he topped AZ Billiards Money List 5 times; 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2006 he set a record by earning $646K in a single year.
In 2003, Reyes was featured in the Filipino movie Pakners with the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr.. On June 15, 2008, Reyes, Francisco Bustamante and 2007 Women's Amway World Pool Championships finalist Rubilen "Bingkay" Amit will begin photography and had been cast to star with American Jennifer Barretta in and independent film, "9-Ball," at Universal Studios. This movie will be directed and produced by Main Street Production's Anthony Palma, with Ralph Clemente as executive producer.
Reyes was appointed Philippine Sports Ambassador of the 2005 South East Asian Games alongside some of the Philippines' greatest athletes (Allan Caidic, Rafael Nepomuceno) to promote the event throughout the country.
Reyes is often called by his nickname "Bata" (Tagalog for ""Kid"), given to him by friends at his regular pool hall to distinguish him from an older Efren. Reyes, along with the other "Filipino invasion" players, revolutionized the way pool is played by their introduction to the sport of pinpoint precision kicking (going into a rail with the cue ball and then hitting an object ball). Reyes' ability to "kick safe" and to kick balls into intended pockets is legendary. This ability, coupled with his superb skill at other aspects of the game, led U.S. professionals to give him the appellation "The Magician".
"[The] first time I came over to the states, I used an alias of Cesar Morales. Pool players in the US already knew Efren Reyes as a great shooter from the Philippines, but they [hadn't]...seen...[me]...in person." — Efren Reyes
In one episode of the TV series Magpakailanman, the story circles a young Efren Reyes (portrayed by actor Anjo Yllana) in his early pool-playing days from a money player to tournament contender.
His son, Frennie Reyes, once competed in the Asian Nine-ball Tour.
|WPA Men's World Nine-ball
|WPA Men's World Eight-ball
Open Nine-ball Champion